Therapy & support in bereavement

Death ends a life, not a relationship. The person who died is still important in your life. Try to find meaningful ways to keep a connection to them like lighting candles, looking at photos, telling stories about them and including their name in your conversations. Your life has been changed forever by their death, but you may find strength within yourself you didn’t know you had. This strength can help you heal from the pain while keeping treasured memories alive in your heart.

What is Grief?

Grief and loss are normal life experiences. A death in your family or in your circle of friends is always difficult. Grieving is a process of adjustment and it takes time.

There is no one way to grieve. Grief can affect you in lots of different ways, such as physically (for example headaches, stomach upset etc), how you feel, how you think and how you interact with others:

  1. The best help and support often comes from people who care about you, like friends and relatives.
  2. Seek out accurate information about grief and loss or 

If you are concerned about how you are doing then you may benefit from some extra support. Signs that you might need this support are: 

  • your grief is intense and unrelenting and you feel your physical or emotional well-being is at risk.
  • you have serious and persistent thoughts or plans to end your own life.
  • you feel prolonged agitation, depression, guilt or despair.

If so then:

  • talk to your GP
  • Contact one of the organisations below who can either help directly or put you in contact with a specific organization or bereavement group in your community.
Pyramid of Bereavement Support

There are different types of bereavement support. As everyone is different then People who are grieving may need different types of support. These can be explained using the pyramid of bereavement support below.

 Level 1

Grief is normal after bereavement and most people manage without professional intervention. At this level, people need information on what to expect in the grieving process, practical help with tasks and social support (like being available to listen to a bereaved colleague, go for a coffee with them, including them in social activities, etc).

Level 2

Some people may require a more formal opportunity to review and reflect on their loss experience, but this doesn’t necessarily have to involve professionals. Volunteer bereavement support workers/befrienders, self-help groups, faith groups and community groups provide a lot of the support at this level.

Level 3

A minority of people (some) will require specialist interventions. These can include psychotherapy, counselling, psychological and medical services.

Level 4

For a very few individuals Specialised Therapeutic Services that address mental health needs are required.

Things that might help
  • Be kind to yourself. Try to rest, eat well and keep some structure to your day.
  • Be patient. Try to allow yourself to feel and react in a way that is natural to you.
  • Talk to someone you trust about how you are coping.
  • Ask for and accept support, both emotional and practical, from friends and family.
  • Remember that grief comes and goes. Even though you may be coping quite well some of the time, there may be times when you feel particularly sad or upset.
When someone you care about is bereaved
  • Acknowledge their loss. Don’t avoid mentioning the person who has died. Most bereaved people welcome the chance to talk. You do not lessen grief by avoiding the subject.
  • Don’t offer advice on how they should feel, act or get on with their lives. Allow them space to make their own decisions.
  • If you are unsure how to help, just ask.
  • Offer practical help. Bereaved people may find it hard to reach out and ask for that help. Make specific offers of help – cook dinner, cut the grass, go for a walk with them.
  • Reach out, make yourself available, not just in the short term but in the weeks and months to come.
What may help
  • Realise and recognise the extent of your loss.
  • Try to rest, eat well and keep some structure to your day.
  • Be patient and gentle with yourself.
  • Accept support, both emotional and physical, from caring friends and family.
  • Allow yourself to grieve in the way that suits you.
  • Know that any new death can bring up sorrows about past losses.
  • Seek out accurate information about grief and loss.
  • Be prepared for change and growth in your life.
What do people die from (and organizations that support those with that illness and their families)

From the CSO Vital Statistics Annual Report 2018 we know that of the 31,140 deaths in Ireland for that year, with the leading causes being

  • 30.5% Neplasms – 9,500

Of which Malignant Neplasms (or cancers) were 9,258. Neoplasms can also be benign, in situ, or uncertain (malignant or benign).

  • 29.2% Disease of circulatory system – 9,084
  • 13% Diseases of the respiratory system – 4,051
  • 4.5% External causes of injury and poisoning – 1,358

Of these almost 1/3rd (437 deaths) were due to intentional self-harm in 2018, 327 (3 out of 4 were male). Deaths due to External causes are unexpected so additional bereavement support can be required. But there are many different organisations and support groups who can help. Taking one very specific example would be.

Irish Hospice Foundation – Bereavement support line

Their Bereavement Support Line, in partnership with the HSE, is there to provide connection, comfort and…

Irish Cancer Society

are a community of patients, survivors, volunteers, supporters, health and social care professionals and researchers. Together…

Citizens Information

The Citizens Information Board is the national agency responsible for supporting the provision of information,…

Irish Road Victims Association (IRVA)

IRVA is a national organisation which offers free information and support services to victims of…